Thursday, February 25, 2010

Little Mika

Mika and Mischa are two dear, fuzzy little Russian blue mixes who are probably about 4-5 months old. I had initially thought they were both girls, so had called them Nika and Mika, but now I call them Mika and Mischa. They were extremely scared, but have been gradually coming around. Mischa is actually getting very playful with me, but Mika is still quite shy. She will hiss at first, but once I touch her for a while, she begins to relax. She does not try to bite at all, I think she is hissing because she is still unsure. Below you will see a little video of me TTouching her. I generally start out with the back of just one little finger, doing small circles on her head, and then some ear strokes. Later on, after she is more relaxed, I will work in some touches on the body. In the video you can see her hiss and then her ears remaining back for a while, but at the end she starts to relax, let her breath go, close her eyes and go into nap mode.

The part of the visual which you don't see was quite humorous, her brother Mischa wason the lower level of the cage pawing at me, trying to get me to play with him.

On looking at the video, I see that next time I will try doing circles at a slower rate on Mika, it may help to achieve more relaxation with her. It is very helpful for me to see these videos, I always see how I can do better for the animal in my next session.

I look forward to working more with these sweet, shy ones and others at Social Tees. If you are in NYC, stop by sometime!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Rosa Gets Adopted!

I am happy to report that Rosa just got adopted!

And before she got adopted, I was happy that I was able to work with her enough so that she was comfortable with me doing TTouch on her, and I also worked up to picking her up and putting her on my lap. I did this by following suggestions which I saw on a DVD set I have been watching recently, Feline Feral to Feline Friendly, by Dr. Rosalez-Ruiz and Angela Rentfro, which is a great seminar and very interesting approach to helping fearful and feral cats. Further along in the dvd, they acclimate the cat to being picked up by chunking the motion down -- starting out with just putting your hands on either side of the middle of the body, then gently lifting slightly off the ground, etc, then working up to lifting off the ground. This worked quite well with Rosa. I wanted to do this gradually because she can easily be startled and frightened by sudden motions. I was surprised at how quickly I was able to work up to this, and once I got her in my lap, she settled right in, as though this was something she was very comfortable with. I did TTouch on her in my lap, and she was very relaxed.

Then I got to the next question -- I wasn't sure how she preferred to get down or be let down from my lap. I was sitting on a stepladder with my feet on the ground, so was not far from the ground. I gradually bent my knees so that they were approaching the floor, and she actually hopped right off :)

So on to talking about her adopter. He is a very kind young man who has had Chihuahuas before, and when I showed him how to best introduce himself to and approach Rosa, he totally understood, and she seemed to take to him right away. Even in the midst of a very hectic day at the shelter, I could feel that he had a very calm energy with her. Unfortunately, we discovered when we put a leash on her that she was very sensitive about the contact with her neck area (she probably had an owner previously who pulled and dragged her around, who knows?), so I suggested that when it seemed comfortable and appropriate to try a harness, that would be a good idea. I know he will take good care of her and I wish them well!!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Rosa the Chihuahua

A few days ago, the lovely little Chihuahua (pictured above) arrived at Social Tees shelter. I am calling her Rosa. She is about 15 years old, and full of pep.

The poor girl arrived at the shelter extremely stressed out, and would flinch and/or lunge if you made any movement towards her. We put her in a crate overnight so that she would not be bothered by the other dogs running loose in the shelter, then decided to let her loose in the shelter the following day. I found her cringing in a corner in the kitchen area.

I crouched on the floor with my back to her several feet away from her, and began to speak softly to her, assuring her that everything was ok, that she was in a safe place, and we were going to take care of her and be kind to her, etc. Little by little she started to walk up to me and sniff me a little. Then she would walk away, circle back and come near me again, checking me out. I continued to speak to her in a quiet, soft voice, and made sure that I was breathing and that I was consciously slowing my own energy way down. She came closer to me each time, eventually brushing against my body with her body. I wasn't sure if she was ready for me to touch her, so after a while, I gave her a break and let her be, and did some other tasks around the shelter.

An hour or two later, I decided to see what could happen with her, and now she was hanging out in one of the main rooms of the shelter where many cages of cats are. The other dogs who were loose were in another room. Again, I crouched on the floor, talking to her softly, and little by little she began to come up to me again. I was a little afraid she might try to bite, so I really took my time, and when the time felt really right, I just brushed alongside her back with the back of my hand. She had no problem with this. Then I began to do llama touches down her back (circles using the back of my hand), as the back of the hand is much less threatening than the front of the hand. Again, I made sure I was slowing down my own energy a lot, hearing the thoughts in my head even playing at a slow speed. The dog stayed still as I did the llama touches, so I continued. I was not holding her - she could have walked away at any point. Eventually I worked my way up to doing chimp touches (with the back of the fingers) and later, abalone touches (making circles on the skin with the hand face-down) down her back. I could feel her body becoming more relaxed as I did this and her skin tone becoming more flexible. This all took quite a while.

By the end of my session with her, I was even able to do ear strokes and small touches around her head and the outside of her mouth a bit. Her ears were very relaxed by this point. One of the other volunteers who was sitting close to me was able to touch her very gently on her head. Then the dog came back to me for more.

After I finished, she went over to a little pillow and curled up to take a nap. Aaaahh, relaxed at last, she seemed to say.

The following day, I had to start out the same way, as when I first moved towards her, she flinched and looked frightened. So I started slowly and basically went through the same sequence, though I was able to touch her sooner this time, as she was becoming used to me. I have told others in the shelter to be very gentle with her, and that it's better to allow her time to come up to you. I can't wait to see her again and hope a kind, loving person will be able to give her a forever home soon!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Suzy's Story

Suzy is a very sweet kitty with whom I have a very special connection. She arrived with us after a previous owner had apparently tried to throw her away in the garbage, where a porter for an apartment complex had found her, taken her in and had been keeping her in the basement of the apartment complex where he worked. He wanted her to have a better home and so that is how she ended up with us. He did ask that we keep her name, Suzy. Initially she had a bad cold, so after being treated by our vet, she came back to us. She is a lovely charcoal color - greyish black fur interspersed with white.

Why anyone would want to throw away this dear little creature is absolutely beyond me. Suzy was a little shy and mostly sleeping in her litter box when she arrived at the shelter. I wanted to encourage her to eat, as she only seemed to be eating a little of the dry food which was in her cage so I started giving her a little bit of sliced turkey, followed by some wet food, which she began to be increasingly enthusiastic about. After feeding her, I began doing TTouch on her head, starting w/chimp touches and raccoon touches and ear strokes, then some Noah's marches down the sides of her body with the back of my hand and clouded leopard touches. She grew more responsive to TTouch every day.

Then after going to the 99 cent store and finding some wonderful soft brushes, I tried one on Suzy which probably is a shoe brush, but with nice soft bristles. This has turned out to be her favorite thing, and every day I call to her and she comes to the front of her cage to be brushed gently all around her face and ears and then down her body. She holds a special place in my heart and I hope that someone will feel the same way and adopt her soon. It can take longer for adult kitties, especially black or black-ish cats, but she will get a lot of love in the shelter until the right forever home happens.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Update on Tatiana, and a couple of more Scaredy Cats

Tatiana, pictured above, has been getting more comfortable every day. She still is initially scared of people, but once you touch her gently, soon she becomes more at ease and begins to purrrrrr. I had some assistance in socializing her by my little baby siamese kitten pictured below.

Please excuse the red-eye, I had to use a flash as there was not enough light. This very social little dude was adopted but his new owner could not take him for a couple of days, so we put him with Tatiana to keep her company. Sometimes we find that putting a very socialized kitten in with a very scared one can help the scared kitty to feel more at ease, and that definitely was the case with these two. As soon as I opened the cage, he would begin to purr and seek attention, and this would encourage her to start her purring as well. This little guy also was able to help a REALLY scared little black kitten, who I will discuss in another post. I was a little nervous about putting him in with that kitten, not sure what would happen, but several times I saw him and the black kitten cuddled up right next to each other.

So, yesterday a very sweet couple came in the shelter and the woman absolutely fell in love with Tatiana. When she first started to pet her in the cage, Tatiana seemed scared, but the woman's gentle demeanor soon won her over and she began her purring. The couple ended up adopting both Tatiana and her sister (who had been in a separate cage temporarily as she has a bit of a cold). I wish them all the best.

I knew that I had truly made progress with Tatiana when I went to take her out of the cage and put into a box to go to her new home. When she first came into the shelter, we were barely able to transfer her from the box to the cage, as she was so agitated and bouncing off the walls. But now Tatiana was so comfortable that when I went to pick her up, she was very trusting and did not try to get away from me at all. I think she must have known she was going to a good place!

Another couple of challenging cats I have been working with are Nika and Mika, pictured below. Over the past week, I have inch by inch been gaining their trust. I know that they look rather skeptical in the photo, but this is actually progress for them, as before, they would have either hissed at me or hid if I tried to take a picture.

Nearly all of the time they huddle and cuddle in the litter box, though this has been changing slowly as well. With them, as they were very hissy and frightened, I started out doing little circles with a feather around the top of the head and ears, around their cheek area, etc.. The feather provides some distance between you and them and can be a good way to transition to touching them with your hand. When they grew comfortable with being touched on their head, every once in a while I would do a gentle stroke with the feather on their body, then go back to the head. The mostly-grey kitten, Nika, was more comfortable from the beginning, so I spent more time with him, as making progress with the more comfortable kitten and make the other one more confident about being touched as well.

As they grew accustomed to being touched with the feather, I worked my way down the feather with my hand and eventually began to do raccoon touches on one cat's head, then the other. Still, Mika was hissing sometimes, so I would just go to her every once in a while, do a few very gentle raccoon touches on her head, then go back to Nika.

Over the past couple of days, these two have really been coming around. After I did TTouch on them a couple of days ago, Nika came out of the litter box and began to walk around her cage, having a little food, etc, and seemed comfortable doing that. That was a big step for her. Her sister probably will do that now, but she waits till things are quiet in the shelter and people go away. Yesterday, I finally was able to do TTouch for an extended period of time down the bodies of both these kitties, which I had been unable to do much of before, as they would get very nervous and sometimes hiss when I went from touching their head to touching their body. However, yesterday they both felt very comfortable being touched all over, including around their mouth area, which can be a key area for nervous kitties. I did TTouch in about four short sessions with them, to give them breaks in between, and each time they seemed more at ease. I look forward to more work with these sweet girls! They are teaching me so much about being very patient and respectful of what they need.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Tatiana, a Timid Kitten

Recently several very frightened kittens have arrived at Social Tees shelter, and I always welcome the challenging opportunity of working with them -- it is always a big learning experience for me, and it is such a pleasure to have the possibility of helping these animals to feel more comfortable in their bodies.
Above you see Tatiana, a gorgeous tortoise-shell kitten. She was scared out of her mind on arrival -- she was hissing and thrashing, we could barely transfer her to a cage, and then she escaped from the cage a while after that. When I started working with her, she was cowering in the back of her cage or in the back of her litter box, as you see here. I soon realized it was ok to touch her -- she was not biting or hissing, simply scared and frozen in place. For a few days I did TTouch on her head and body -- starting out with little raccoon touches around her ears and on her forehead and around the outside of her mouth and jaw, and slowly working up to connected touches down the body. As I worked, I felt her relax and start to let her breath go. But still, she was still remaining pretty much in the same place in her cage while I worked on her, though her body position did relax somewhat.
I did notice, though, that when I was working on other animals in the room, she started to come towards the front of her cage and watch what was going on.
Yesterday, as I begain to do connected clouded leopard touches down her body, all of a sudden I started to hear a PURRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR coming out of her. What a welcome sound! The purr continued, and she began to free her body and move, starting to push her head against my hand at times, stretching out her body, etc. I worked on her in a bunch of very short sessions of a few minutes each while I was there. She still would start out by seeming scared and at the back of the cage, but quickly resumed the purring and friendly behavior, so she seems like she is on her way to coming out of her shell.
At the end of the day, a very socialized kitten arrived, so we put it in the same cage with her, thinking it could help encourage her progression to become a more socialized kitten. I still feel the texture of her fluffy, soft kitten fur as I write -- she is a lovely kitten and I am so glad to feel she is on her way to becoming a more comfortable creature and more adoptable kitty.